A Satellite Navigation (Sat Nav) or GPS is a driver's best friend when it comes to accurately locating their geographical position and providing a detailed driving route to specified destination. In recent years, GPS manufacturers have been adding new and interesting innovations which you will discover in this article.
GPSs can be very beneficial and as they are now much more affordable, more and more people are deciding to buy a device for their cars. Selecting the right GPS for your needs is not always easy, with numerous makes and models on the market it can feel as though you need significant knowledge of the technical characteristics of these devices in order to make the best choice Luckily, we have done the hard work for you and below you will a find a complete guide to GPS, including information, frequently asked questions and the top products on the UK market to help you make an informed decision when making your purchase.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Sat Navs: Our Picks
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about a Sat Nav
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- The satellite navigation or GPS system is based on a series of land-based control stations and a network of at least 24 satellites orbiting the Earth, so that at any one time, at least six satellites are accessible by the GPS receivers.
- In order to choose the most suitable GPS device, you will firstly need to consider its intended use, different devices are available for different modes of transport. For example a device you may purchase for your car may be different to a device suitable for use on a motorbike or bicycle.
- The UK is to build its own satellite system post Brexit after Prime Minister Theresa May rules out using Galileo, an Europe-centric version of the Global Positioning System reported to eventually be more accurate than GPS when it is fully functional in 2026. The cost of building its own system is an estimated £3bn-£5bn. The UK will also work with the US to continue accessing its GPS System.
Here is a list that we have prepared of the five best personal GPS systems currently available on the UK market. We have made this list by choosing a wide variety of items with the key principle of only including products that offer very good value for money.
When choosing a GPS, it is important to consider the the various functions and applications available in different models available on the market today. The following section goes into more detail and covers general information about GPSs along with the most commonly asked questions by GPS consumers.
GPS works thanks to a series of land-based control stations and a network of at least 24 satellites in orbit around the Earth. For GPS to work accurately, the device must be able to receive a signal from at least six satellites. GPS devices such as those in many cars today receive and replay the information they receive from the satellites.
A GPS device can also display the speed limit (where known) and warn you about the presence of speed cameras, speed limit changes and specific information such as the warning of an approaching school zone or dangerous road. Some advanced agricultural GPSs allow users to monitor the land of cultivation to help farmers reduce the costs of fumigation and harvesting.
|They let you know your position with a high level of accuracy||Sometimes, they can distract you from the road and increase the risk of an accident|
|Some GPSs do not need to be connected to the Internet to determine your position. This way, you can use them in places where 3G or 4G internet coverage does not reach||Updating maps can be an extra expense|
|They provide detailed information on the route and points of interest|
|They make it possible to estimate the approximate time of arrival|
|They offer information and warnings of fixed speed cameras|
|They help you drive more comfortably and safely, as you don't need to rely on your mobile phones' navigation system|
Additionally, a GPS is particularly useful if you travel in areas where the Internet coverage is poor or non existent as in more remote areas of the UK. A GPS system is also highly recommended in the agricultural industry for farmers to track the movements of their tractors or harvesters to improve efficiency and reduces costs.
|Installation||They are light and easily transportable. They have a bracket to attach them to any vehicle||They are normally installed as standard in the dashboard of the car|
|Battery||You usually connect them to the car's cigarette lighter to charge the battery on long trips||You don't have to worry about charging the battery|
|Speed||Turn on speed varies between models. You may need to wait while the navigator system is loading||They work as soon as the car is started, so the waiting time is minimal|
|Use||They can be used in different vehicles||Can only be used in the car in which they are installed|
|Probability of theft||Given their small size, they can be easily stolen if you leave them inside the car||They cannot be stolen unless your entire vehicle is stolen|
Another function available in most GPSs is the fixed speed camera alert which works by using your location and checking against a database of known speed camera locations. GPSs also indicate points of interest and may even advise which lane is more suitable for driving.
If you are thinking about buying a GPS, it is important that you take into account a number of different factors before making your purchase. To help you in the selection process, we have selected the criteria that we believe are the most important. We have done this with the fundamental objective of creating a shopping guide so that you can find the GPS that best suits you.
What is your intended use of the GPS should be one of your first questions along with what type of vehicle with which you are going to use it. GPSs are usually built for use in a car, but there are also specific devices for HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicles) motorcycles and bicycles.
GPSs for HGV's usually inform drivers about the width of the road or the height of approaching tunnels or bridges. GPSs designed for motorcycles are usually built to withstand heavy rain and have more secure brackets for attachment.
When it comes to choosing GPS, most people generally opt for one with as large a screen as possible. However keep in mind that a larger screen size usually means a higher price. In addition, the screen size isn't the only nor the most important aspect to consider when comparing the different GPS screens.
When it comes to the screen, the resolution, the level of brightness and minimal reflection are just as important.If it is not easy to see the/GPS screen in sunny conditions, this may distract the driver and increase the risk of an accident.
Some GPS models include free lifetime updates to the included maps meanwhile others require you to pay each time an update comes out. The former tends to require a higher initial economic investment, but in the long term, it may be more economical.
With this in mind, it is important to consider whether you will need new updates frequently or whether you plan on using the same regions and therefore do not need new versions. This will determine whether it is better to invest in a GPS with lifetime updates or simply pay for them as they are needed/released.
Every GPS includes a certain level of pre-loaded maps with the device so it's important when choosing a device, you understand the package you will need eg UK only or to include European maps.
There are currently two main map providers for GPSs across the world: Navteq and Tele Atlas. In general, their functionalities are very similar but you may wish to analyse the points of interest they show and the additional information that each provider includes.
Generally, the battery of a GPS will last for two to three hours. Fortunately, charging your battery in the car is usually quite simple. If you plan on using the GPS with another type of vehicle, such as a motorcycle it may not be so easy and therefore the life of the battery takes on greater importance.
Often the attachment system of the GPS is not given much thought, but a good fastening system can save a lot of headaches. It is also essential that the GPS has a charging system that works in your vehicle. The most common form of charging is via the cigarette lighter which is reliable and easy to use.
Another interesting "extra" is a Bluetooth connection. With Bluetooth, you can usually synchronise your mobile phone contacts with the GPS to use your phone via the GPS screen. With this extra feature you can drive much safer and more comfortably. Some GPSs also have the ability to connect to the Internet via WiFi for easy map updates.
Having a GPS can be very helpful when you are on the move. Not only to plan routes or find locations on the map, but also to know places of interest and potentially to help you drive more carefully with the indication of the speed limit and warnings of upcoming speed cameras. It's no wonder that GPSs are so popular.
To decide which GPS is best for you, the first thing you should consider is how you are going to use it along with the technical specifications such as the screen, maps included, battery life and the ‘extra' accessories available.
Finally, if you found this guide useful for your GPS selection process, please leave us a comment or share it through your different social networks.
(Source of featured image: Moreno Soppelsa: 10480474/ 123rf.com)